For the first time in our province’s history, an Initiative Petition was successful as more than 700,000 British Columbians showed their determination to stop the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). In my constituency alone, many thousands of people signed the petition, and I was proud to be one of the volunteer canvassers who worked on that effort.
From the first days of the BC Liberals’ announcement that they were breaking their promise not to implement a HST, my office has been flooded with calls and emails from constituents who are absolutely opposed to this tax.
As you know, you will shortly be receiving a referendum ballot in the mail asking you whether or not you are in favour of extinguishing the HST. I believe the majority of British Columbians will vote ‘Yes.’
There has been a great deal of talk about ‘fixing’ the HST. Premier Christy Clark and her government have made the decision to stake their political futures on whether or not the people of British Columbia will be fooled by her promises of rebates and rate reductions.
These promised ‘fixes’ do not deal with the fact that the HST was brought in under false pretences. The BC Liberals campaigned on their promise that they would not implement an HST. They broke that promise.
Now they are promising a rebate and rate reduction, but in order to partially fund these new promises, they’ve had to break previous promises of tax cuts. This is a government that clearly cannot be trusted.
And it is also a government that is not capable of managing the books. If the government were to proceed with these rebates and rate cuts, we would see a massive hole in the provincial government. Arguments that we can’t cancel the HST because we can’t afford to give back the $1.6 billion to the federal government become moot if the cost of ‘fixes’ are so much greater.
The HST, both the current version and proposed version, still constitutes a massive shift of taxation away from large corporations and on to the backs of average residents. And it no longer allows British Columbians to make tax policy for themselves.
As we prepare to vote in the HST referendum, we need to remember how we came to be in this place. It is only because of the strong voice of regular British Columbians showing their opposition to the HST that we are getting this opportunity to make this decision.
I will be honouring the determination of so many British Columbians, and I will be voting ‘Yes’ to scrap the HST.
MLA Report by Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald